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The Spirit of Ecstasy is the bonnet ornament (or hood ornament in the US) on Rolls-Royce cars. It is in the form of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her. Billowing cloth runs from her arms to her back, resembling wings. The Spirit of Ecstasy, also called "Emily", "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady", was designed by English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes and carries with it a story about a secret passion between John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, (second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu after 1905, a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902) and his secret love and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Eleanor was John Walter's secretary, and their love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. John-Walter, succumbing to family pressures, married Lady Cecil Victoria Constance, but the secret love affair continued.
Eleanor died on 30 December 1915 when the SS Persia, on which she accompanied Lord Montagu on his journey to India, was torpedoed off Crete by a German submarine, four years after she had been immortalized by her lover.
March 17th, 2013
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